The Passion Facade of La Sagrada Familia

Of the three facades of La Sagrada Familia only The Nativity Facade was completed during Gaudi’s lifetime. The famous Catalan artist Josep Maria Subirachs was appointed in 1986 to provide the sculptures for the Passion Facade and he accepted on one condition, that he won’t have to follow Gaudi’s instructions for the facade design. And so we have the realistic figures of the Nativity Facade in great contrast with the abstract art on the Passion Facade with their angular features.


The Passion Facade

Click on any photo for a larger version of that photo.

Subirachs was a prolific Catalan artist who was born in 1927 and died in 2014 at the age of 87. During his lifetime he completed more than 3,000 works including 100 for the Passion Facade. He has 70 other sculptures in and around Barcelona including the Macia Monument in Placa de Catalunya. He also created the St Michael’s Cross in Montserrat. He began working on the Passion Facade in 1987 and completed his last sculpture in 2004. He also designed and built the four bronze doors of the Passion Facade.


Subirachs created his doors out of plaster and then had them bronzed.


Another double door.

There are sixteen scenes in Subirach’s facade. I was able to photograph nine of them.


“Before the cock crows twice…” The three women represent the people who questioned Peter. And that’s the anguished Peter on the right.


The Judas Kiss, the devil represented as a snake and the Magic Square in which every row, column and diagonal and even the four corners and the inner four squares all add up to 33, the age of Christ when he died.


The scourging at the pillar. Subirachs mostly used stone that blended with the wall but in some cases used a different stone such as this pillar in travertine in order to stand out.


The crowning of thorns. Subirach’s Roman soldiers are often likened to Gaudi’s famous chimneys on the roof of the Casa Mila. They remind me of Darth Vader’s storm troopers. That’s Pontius Pilate on the right.


Pilate washes his hands.


I was able to get five scenes from this angle. The Judas Kiss in on the lower left. On the next level are the three women who questioned Peter plus the backside of Peter. The third level shows Christ carrying the cross and Veronica with the image of Jesus on her veil. And the crucifixion of Christ is on the top level.


Veronica is never mentioned in the Bible and so Subirachs makes her faceless. The legend of Veronica was probably derived from the words “vera eikon” meaning “true image.”

The evangelist recording the scene above is in the image of Antoni Gaudi.

The evangelist recording the scene above is in the image of Antoni Gaudi.


The burial of Jesus. Many people have commented that Nicodemus, the figure on the upper right, looks a lot like Subirachs himself!

Subirach’s interpretation of Gaudi’s design for the Passion Facade has not gone without controversy, especially when his gaunt, tormented figures are contrasted with those on the Nativity Facade. What do you think of his art?

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, Barcelona, Spain, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Passion Facade of La Sagrada Familia

  1. disperser says:

    Some amazing details . . . even though all the figures look sad.

  2. thegreyeye says:

    I love this cathedral

  3. Pingback: Discovering León, Part Two: A Walking Tour of the City’s Historic Old Town | Crow Canyon Journal

  4. The Jetset Boyz says:

    Our recent visit to Antoni Gaudi’s fabulous La Sagrada Familia was our third, and yet again we were in awe!

    The detail in this cathedral is mind blowing… from a distance it looks very Gothic in nature but then you get closer and every single element leaves your jaw hanging. From the lighting, the tree-like columns, the sculpture… It’s safe to say we have witnessed a work of art in the making!

    Make sure The Palau de la Música Catalana is on your to-do list next time you visit Barcelona. When we first laid eyes on it, we were mesmerised by its beauty and colour. It’s so good we’ve visited on twice, on different visits to Barcelona.

  5. The Passion Façade is an architectural travesty. Subirachs surely knew he was incapable of matching the ingenious synthesis of architecture and sculpture in the Nativity Façade, so, in the arrogant manner of 20th century modernists, he imposed his incongruous aesthetic on Gaudi’s masterpiece. It is hard to know which is worst: the blockheaded sculptures, their blockheaded carver, or the blockheads who imagined Subirachs was fit for the task. The rough layout is Gaudi’s, but everywhere the realization feels alien. The Devil, not God, is in these details. When one thinks of what might and should have been, one weeps.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.